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John Vianney

David Cowles

Aug 2, 2022

“He used to travel…to isolated barns for clandestine Masses…”

(I am indebted to The Pilot, Boston, 7/28/22, for Vianney’s words and for the details of Vianney’s life.)

Aletheia Today is all about seeing the world in different ways and living out those differences in our lives. Meet Fr. John Vianney. He saw things differently and he lived his life accordingly. On August 4, the Roman Catholic Church will celebrate the life of this 19th century parish priest, the cure of Ars in rural France.

As a young boy during the bloodiest years of the French Revolution, John used to travel with his parents in the middle of night to isolated barns for clandestine Masses with hunted priests as volunteer sentinels kept vigil. The penalty for getting caught, for clergy, hosts, and attendees alike, was the guillotine.

Nevertheless, the Vianney family deemed attending Mass, worshiping the Son of God made man in the Eucharist, and receiving him, important enough to die for. In Vianney’s mind, martyrdom was a small price to pay for the physical presence of Jesus. "All good works taken together do not equal the sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men (sic), and the holy Mass is the work of God. The martyr is nothing in comparison, because martyrdom is the sacrifice that man makes to God of his life while the Mass is the sacrifice that God makes for man…"

Roman Catholics (and members of some other Christian denominations) believe that in the sacrifice of the Mass, we participate in Christ's sacrifice on Calvary. In the consecration, bread and wine are totally changed into Jesus Christ, really, truly, and substantially present under sacramental appearances...

"He is there!" Vianney would often preach amidst tears, reminding his people that God himself was among them on the altar and in the tabernacle.

"…We are like someone who dies of thirst next to a river, just needing to bend down the head to drink, or like a poor man next to a treasure chest, when all that is needed is to stretch out the hand."


Image: St. John Vianney Credit: Joachim Schäfer - Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon


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